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BULLYING AND STUDENT BEHAVIOUR I believe that using a word like "bully", or "bullying", or "bullied" is actually a verdict on the intention of another person. Scratching your neck, teasing, hitting someone, not talking to someone, harassing someone - all of these might be bullying - or not. What is often lacking for us is a clear definition of what distinguishes these words from other words like assault, battery, physical abuse, extortion etc. We do not have such a definition - what we have is a series of words which describe but which do not define bullying. When someone who has been hit by another person says they have been "bullied" they are essentially giving a verdict on the behaviour of the other person.

When the verdict is given the behaviour is seen in a different light.

In many cases I have dealt with the verdict was used indiscriminately. It is a verdict which should be used with great caution and only when the full facts of the situation are available. To distinguish between teasing which might be playful, flirty, socially acceptable and teasing which might be hurtful, nasty, and demeaning is very difficult.What might be an innocent comment for one person could be loaded with pain for another.

The words used by teachers, parents and students also change quite a bit in describing a problem. When I began teacher training there were "juvenile delinquents" everywhere! These were tough kids in the playground, picking on weaker kids, demanding money from them, beating them up etc. Today comments about a person's age, race, colour, creed, sexual orientation, physique, family background etc. are all deemed unacceptable and even racist. Go back one hundred years and a different word was used - people suffered from bad blood, they needed to be "bled" to help them recover, fresh air was considered to be essential so many prisoners in jail were stripped of their clothing and left in draughty cells so that the fresh air could "sort them out"! We can consider three very different words - "bully" - which might be seen as a noun, a word which describes a particular person ; "bullying" which is a verb, an action undertaken by a bully; and finally there is the word "bullied" which might be used to describe someone who has succumbed to the process of bullying by the bully.

It would be very simplistic to suggest that every person who experiences "bullying" end up being "bullied". Most people experience some form of bullying at some point in their life - some of it playful, some of it with a social function, some of it harmful, some of it dangerous. Most people experience "bullying" but not all succumb to it. Some have coping skills, some have physical strength, some have friendships. Some don't. It is the people who succumb to bullying, who become bullied that we should consider in our pastoral care of students.

I hesitate to say this but , perhaps, it needs to be said - there are also people who for one reason or another provoke reactions in others which lead to bullying behaviour. The reasons have been well documented - being different, being weak, being gifted, being sick, being attention seeking, - there are so many possible reasons that it becomes very difficult to see things in black and white in dealing with human relationships .

More to follow .....

Managing Student Behaviour (Introduction)

As a headmaster I tried to construct a system of behaviour management which was understandable to students, teachers and parents. By studying the various types of indiscipline which occurred on a daily basis in school, three main categories of problem arose :

1 Disruption - which included being late, leaving early, talking out of turn, not having the necessary requirements for class, eating in class, not paying attention, disrupting the learning of others etc.

2 Aggression - which included verbal and physical aggression, bullying, fighting, harassment, threats, menaces, vandalism and other acts of violence.

3 Dissent - which included any direct refusal to accept the authority of the teacher.

By far the most common problems were in category one - about three quarters of all problems occurred in this section. These were, generally, initially best handled in class by the teacher, using routine teacher strategies.

The other two categories involved a mandatory written report and would not be handled in class by the teacher. These two categories also required parental contact and requested a parental visit. The system came to be called DAD!

We used language which we felt would be understood by our students - we asked them to consider a referee in a match - even if wrong the referee must have the authority to maintain control over the group in his/her control. Therefore we encouraged students not to argue with the teacher in class. In class, in front of other students, the teacher authority must be maintained. We also offered students a mechanism of making a proper complaint if they felt wronged.

We tried to teach students the difference between the various categories of indiscipline. We also offered students a certain amount of control over routine sanctions by enabling them to establish a contract with their teacher if a problem arose involving Disruption.

More to follow....... if any of my topics are of interest to anyone let me know, please, it will encourage me to contribute complete articles to WikiEducator.

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